WASHINGTON Nov 2 Republicans have vowed to
repeal and replace President Barack Obama's healthcare overhaul
-- or at least obstruct many of its provisions -- if they win
control of Congress on Tuesday.
National polls show voters are evenly divided on the law
dubbed "Obamacare" by its opponents.
Here are some questions and answers about the law's
WILL REPUBLICANS HAVE THE VOTES TO REPEAL?
It will be very difficult, if not impossible, for
Republicans to repeal the healthcare law.
Republicans are likely to take control of the House of
Representatives but Democrats were expected to keep the Senate,
polls showed. That split makes it unlikely for Republicans to
pass any measures to repeal or change the law because both the
House and the Senate must agree on any final legislation.
Even if Republicans won enough seats to control the Senate,
they would not have enough votes to block procedural hurdles or
overturn a presidential veto.
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CAN REPUBLICANS STOP HEALTHCARE BY REFUSING TO FUND IT?
They can try to withhold money needed to administer and
enforce the law. But, again, they would need control of both
chambers of Congress to pass such measures.
Any attempt to block funding also would require 60 votes in
the Senate to overcome procedural hurdles and even then would
face the threat of a presidential veto.
WHAT COULD A REPUBLICAN-CONTROLLED HOUSE DO?
It could hold hearings on the impact of the health reforms
that may sway public opinion against the law and attract
support for Republican-backed changes. Such a complex law is
bound to run into implementation problems and the majority
party in the House controls committee hearing schedules.
WHICH PROVISIONS WOULD REPUBLICANS TARGET?
One target is the requirement for employers to offer
healthcare insurance to employees or pay a tax penalty. Another
is the requirement that all Americans buy health insurance.
Another plan would be to block planned reductions in
benefits under Medicare, the government-funded health insurance
for older Americans, or scale back the expansion of Medicaid,
the existing government healthcare program for the poor.
WHAT ABOUT THE LAWSUITS?
Some 20 states have launched legal action to overturn the
healthcare law, mostly challenging the constitutionality of
imposing what they consider unlawful taxes and requiring people
to obtain healthcare coverage, a provision known as the
Administration officials and most legal experts say the law
will withstand the legal challenge because the federal
government has the ability to levy taxes and the Constitution
puts federal government powers above those of states.
Other experts, and opponents of the bill, expect the issue
will be considered by the U.S. Supreme Court but the case could
take years to reach that level.
HOW WILL THIS PLAY WITH THE PUBLIC?
Polls generally show Americans evenly divided on the
healthcare law but fewer than half view it favorably.
Obama has recently acknowledged that his administration
could have done a better job convincing the public of the
program's benefits. Still, even some Republicans say the plan
may become more popular if enough Americans begin to feel it
benefits them. That would make it more difficult to convince
the public to support repealing or scaling back the law.
IS THERE A PRECEDENT FOR REPEAL?
Yes. In June 1988 Republican President Ronald Reagan and
the Democratic Congress passed the Medicare Catastrophic
Coverage Act, which was intended to fill gaps in coverage in
the government insurance program for older Americans.
It was celebrated as a bipartisan success that would
provide new medical benefits for the elderly. However, older
Americans had to pay for it, in the form of an extra Medicare
premium and a surtax for people over 65 with higher incomes.
The tax led to a protest campaign and Congress, in another
bipartisan vote, repealed it in 1989.